What would you do if you had to live the same day over and over again?

Yeah, I don’t know either. Given that this concept has become a popular trope in books and movies – I think about it often.

My first introduction to the time loop trope was 11 Birthdays, a children’s book by Wendy Moss about a girl who relives her 11th birthday with her estranged best friend. However, I can understand if most people recognize the time trope from the 1993 film Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray (Ghostbusters). Murray’s character, Phil Connors, is a weatherman who travels to Punxsota, Pennsylvania to report on Groundhog Day and finds himself repeating the same day over and over again. Since 1993, this trope has been used in films of various genres, from action (“On the Edge of Tomorrow”) to holiday (“Christmas is Everyday”) and from horror (“Happy Birthday”) to rom-com (“The Map of Tiny Perfect Things ” and “Palm Springs”), a time trope throughout.

Time loops never get old for me, especially in young adult books. Only this year, two authors viral Ya.A and an adult rom-com — Lynn Painter and Rachel Lynn Solomon — published books with time loops. But other than that, these books don’t have much in common.

In Painter’s The Do-Over, people-pleasing protagonist Emily Hornby is stuck reliving a disastrous Valentine’s Day. Over and over again, she watches her boyfriend cheat on her, she (literally) hits it off with her cute but distant lab partner Nick, and her father reveals news that changes everything. When Emily finally begins to enjoy the time loop, she discovers that her actions are limited and learns to deal with the consequences of her actions.

In Solomon’s See You Yesterday, we meet Barrett Bloom, a girl who is looking forward to her new life as a college student after a difficult experience in high school. But on her first day, she wakes up to find that her new roommate is her school nemesis, loses her chance to write for the student newspaper, and accidentally sets a fraternity on fire. As Barrett continues to relive her first day, she realizes she’s not alone. Miles, the classmate who embarrassed her in Physics 101, stuck around for months. Together, they try to escape the time loop and (surprisingly!) fall for each other along the way.

Time cycle books are interesting because they follow a pattern, and “The Do-Over” and “See You Yesterday” are no different. At first, the characters think they are experiencing déjà vu. Then comes a day of no consequences, where the characters do whatever they want because they think nothing matters. Sometimes heroes decide to “do things right” to escape the time loop. Self-awareness creeps in and leaves the pages. The trope is repetitive, but that’s in its nature.

“See You Yesterday” resonated with me more than “The Do-Over” because of the nature of the characters. Emily is by no means one-dimensional, but she reads like a typical high school YA protagonist—trying to be perfect to compensate for her complicated family situation. “See You Yesterday” is set in college, as Barrett struggles to overcome his high school identity. stuck in time. Remembering about diverse representation in YA books and her own Jewish identity, Solomon has characters like Barrett, our burly Jewish protagonist raised by a young single queer mother, and Miles, a Jewish-Japanese-American with a drug-addicted brother. Solomon takes an intimate approach to these characters and their situations, which adds depth to an already intriguing story.

Another aspect worth noting is the romance in both books. “The Do-Over” relied too much on insta love cliché to me. After Emily comes to terms with her relationship and her cheating boyfriend, she quickly moves on and pursues Nick. Although Nick has to play his part every time Emily repeats the day, their romantic interaction is overshadowed by the fact that he has no memory of what happened between them. In “See You Yesterday,” Miles is trapped in a time loop with Barrett, which justifies the romantic element of the story.

Rom-coms are fun to read, but there are also more serious takes on the time loop, like Justin A. Reynolds’ Opposite Always and Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall. In The Opposite Always, the main character Jack replays over and over the day he met his girlfriend, Kate. Kate dies, so Jack uses every next day to try to save her. Before I Fall follows Samantha, one of the most popular—and meanest—girls at school, who relives the day of her death. She must learn the truth about her death, and in doing so, she will have a chance to atone for her careless mistakes of the past.

Death raises the stakes in any story, but when it involves teenagers, it evokes incredible emotions. I cry every time I watch the adaptation of Before I Fall starring Zoe Deutch (The Mood). Books like Always Opposite and Before I Fall are thought provoking. The stories make me wonder if I’m a good person and if today matters, and using the time loop only reinforces those thoughts. Existential crisis, party of one! Both Always Upside Down and Before I Fall emphasize the importance of the choices we make and the people we surround ourselves with. How we treat others matters, no matter how many times it takes to get it right.

The time loop works well across genres and art forms, especially YA books. The trope emphasizes that we may have some control over our lives, but sometimes we don’t, and that’s okay. Time is limited and life is a gift, so enjoy it.

Daily Arts writer Ava Seaman can be reached at avasea@umich.edu.

Source link